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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Today’s Reading | John 14:1–14

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” (NRSV)

As a frequent officiant at funerals and memorial services, there have been countless times I have proclaimed the words “Let not your hearts be troubled” with the intent of conveying assurance to the mourners. My guess is that those who are grieving and trying their best to hold themselves together absorb only a fraction of the scriptures chosen for a memorial service. But I always hope these particular words stick, if only for a moment.

When Jesus actually said these words to the disciples, it was apparent that everything around him was falling apart. Judas had betrayed him. There had already been the ominous foretelling of Peter’s denial. Jesus’ future was becoming clearer by the moment. Instead of a strong and valiant proclamation, it could be that Jesus said these words, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” with tears in his eyes and quivering lips.

Thirty-two years ago, just days before my mother died, she asked me from her bed, “Will you be OK?” It was her first verbal acknowledgment of her impending death, even though we had known for nine months that she had an incurable cancer. In response to her question, all I could do was nod. And then after an interminable silence, I said, “But I’ll miss you.”

The disciples knew Jesus would die, just as I knew my mother would die. Like me, they were grappling with the terrible separation facing them. I think Jesus was grappling with it too. There would be a void. There would be grief. There would be pain. And everything would seem as though it had been turned upside down. It was like Jesus had just asked, “Will you be OK?” And then, out of love for them, he gave some hints about what to do going forward. “Believe in God. Believe also in me.”

In the greatest losses we face in this life, trusting God, trusting Jesus, is good advice.

Gracious Lord, when my heart is troubled, increase my trust and remind me that you go before me. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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